Yunnan (Beautiful Clouds in the South) Province is the most southwest region of China bordering the countries of Vietnam, Laos, and Burma. Yunnan Province borders Guizhou Province and Guangxi Zhang Autonomous Region to the east, Chongqing and Sichuan to the north, and Tibet Autonomous Region to the northwest. Yunnan encompasses 394,000 square kilometers (152,084 square miles) and has a population of more than 42 million people.
Within these borders, Yunnan has a diverse topography that ranges from alpine mountain ranges to tropical rainforests and the greatest number of plant species in China (more than 18,000) as well as an incredible array of animals, including the Asian elephant and the protected Yunnan golden monkey. There is even a rainforest in the area known as Xishuangbanna where you will find many rare and endangered species of plants and animals.
Tourist centres in Yunnan include:
- Dali, the historic center of the Nanzhao and Dali kingdoms.
- Jinghong, the center and prefectural capital of the Xishuangbanna Dai minority autonomous prefecture.
- Lijiang, a Naxi minority city. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997.
- Shangri-La County (formerly Zhongdian), an ethnic Tibetan township and county set high in Yunnan’s north-western mountains.
- The Stone Forest, a series of karst outcrops east of Kunming.
- Yuanyang, a Hani minority settlement with vast rice-terraces.